Wyoming Could Lose 11,000 Coal Jobs if Obama's "Clean Power Plan" Takes Effect - Wyoming Magazine


Wyoming Could Lose 11,000 Coal Jobs if Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” Takes Effect


Wyoming and the “Clean Power Plan”

Everyone has heard of global warming. Some are fighting that it exists, and others are considering what they can do to stop it from getting worse. As new scientific evidence is coming out almost daily and others have tried to create fog over that evidence.

Wyoming Coal is fighting the Clean Power Plan that was finalized in court in October 2015. While Wyoming is among the 24 states fighting this plan, there’s more at stake for our state than many of the others. Though known as the “Cowboy State”, “Equality State”, and “Big Wyoming”, another nickname is quickly catching on: Coal Country.

Here in Wyoming we are proud to be known as the Energy Capital of The Nation and Coal Country. We are hard working people providing the nation with the energy it needs.

The state of Wyoming stands to lose 11,000 jobs in the coal industry if the Clean Power Plan is not appealed successfully. In the plan, it specifies that Wyoming is supposed to drop their carbon emissions by 44% with a deadline in 2030. That’s almost half of the emissions that are supposed to be stopped.

Furthermore, the courts and federal government – in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) – have identified that each state must put together a plan to help cut their carbon emissions within the next 10 months. Their current deadline is September 2016, hence the 10 months. Finalized plans are not due until 2018.

Emily Schilling – a lawyer for Holland and Hart – has noted that many states likely including Wyoming, will be filing for a two year extension on the initial plan. She says it will be impossible to put together a quality plan to follow the Clean Power Plan in 10 months.

The biggest argument against this plan in Wyoming is that it will cripple the coal business in the country. After all, around 40% of the country’s electricity supply is generated by Wyoming Coal. Despite all of this, proponents of the Clean Power Plan say that this will not be the end of the coal business – it’s just going to become a smaller market.

The federal government is essentially using its power to crush an industry. Instead of allowing capitalism to control the energy market they are artificially killing the coal industry by burying it in bureaucracy, taxes and red tape. In Wyoming we are offended by these actions.

That is the biggest reason Wyoming is on board with fighting the Clean Power Plan, Wyoming’s director of state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Todd Parfitt directly said that they would not even begin to formulate their draft plan. While Governor Matt Mead has tried to sue the EPA unsuccessfully once before. The issue with not even starting on a draft is that we continue to inch closer and closer to the deadlines. If the law stands we will be in a rush to create a plan and something this important should not be done in a rush.

Politicians have much to lose if the Clean Power Plan is successfully defended against the lawsuit in court. In 1977, Exxon became one of the leading companies in defending against climate change. Back then, it wasn’t as big of an issue as it is today. However, in the late 1980s – as climate change and global warming was beginning to give everyone a wakeup call – Exxon stopped. They lied about the science they had uncovered and tried to convince everyone that the human race was not responsible for global warming. Whether the human race is responsible or not there is too much evidence at this point to deny that the earth is warming. We know its warming and evidence continues to point to human activity. That said technology can and is solving any emission issues associated with coal.

Our federal government should be using the tax revenue from coal leases to invest in clean coal technology and carbon capture instead of killing an industry and tax revenue from the inside.

Coal companies understand that simply burning coal for energy creates pollutants. No coal company or state would argue that point however if you take into consideration the carbon capture and clean coal technologies coal becomes a very attractive energy source. Imagine if our coal companies and federal government came together to improve clean coal technology. The industry would thrive and provide the energy our country needs from energy sources within our own borders.

The Clean Power Plan stands poised to begin the decline of the coal industry and may soon start reaching from other energy industries as well. Cutting carbon emissions has a big part to play in how coal and oil companies operate in the future.

However, the EPA has not left those who could possibly fail to meet the 2030 emission standards without hope. The cap and trade idea is coming back in full swing – where states have “credits” that they can trade if they are below the emission standards for their state. This allows other states to buy more time to help cut theirs, and still be in the clear.

Here in Wyoming we are still fighting. Coal production in Wyoming would be reduced between 34 and 50 percent depending on how many of our electricity customers will be able to make the switch to a different fuel like natural gas, wind or solar.

Here in Wyoming we understand that the Coal and Oil industry is the backbone of our nation. We are proud to provide the nation with clean plentiful AMERICAN energy. Investing in Clean Coal technology is the answer Wyoming wants to hear. Killing an industry with overreaching governmental agendas is not something that should be happening in America. Last we checked this was a country that valued freedom and capitalism.

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  1. Wendy Lowe

    January 16, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Appreciate you trying to cover this is development, but this article is poorly researched and contains head scratching inconsistencies. Wyoming has been coal country for decades. We are proud to supply low sulphur Powder River Basin coal to power plants in over thirty states. I am not sure what we are to conclude from this article, but Wyoming miners and companies are proud to defend our workforce and economy. Wyoming coal keeps the lights on, warms and cools homes and businesses around the nation and provides low cost, reliable electricity to manufacturers in Heartland America.

  2. Emily Jewell

    January 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Wendy, Im sorry you misunderstood the article. We are certainly pro coal here at Wyoming Magazine. This article is just stating facts about the current situation in the coal industry. Please don’t misunderstand factual statements about the current political environment around coal with our personal opinion. Obviously we support all aspects of the energy industry. Thanks for reading.

    • Wendy Lowe

      January 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      “After all, at least 40% of the country’s electricity supply is generated by the coal plants in this particular state”. This statement is incorrect, Wyoming supplies 40 percent of the nation’s coal to power plants in over thirty states, you are confusing exported coal and electricity. I take exception to the Exxon discussion and reference to tobacco, these are inflammatory opinions irrelevant to the proposed rule.

    • Peter S. Mulshine

      January 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      The rest of America has to deal w the filth that coal puts into Our air & water.Howard Stern & anyone that have been eating FISh from our waters was being POISONED by mercury from coal burning.
      Fish in fresh & salt water CANT be eaten on a regular basis because of COAL burning
      Get off your asses & build wind turbines that provide CLEAN ENERGY
      ANY coal sent to RED CHINA ends up coming here in winds from the west,,
      We deserve to have clean air & water.YOU lazy selfish dimwits DONT need to make Money from killing other Americans

  3. Emily Jewell

    January 16, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Stating similarities between government intervention in other industries should not be seen as inflammatory but factual information of government intervening in those instances just like they are doing here in the coal industry. Wyoming residents should be inflamed due to the blatant misuse of federal government power to stifle capitalism here in Wyoming. Clean Coal technology and carbon capture are amazing technologies and our country should be investing some if not all of the tax royalties right back into R&D to make them even better. Coal is the most abundant energy source in america. We need to invest in technology that can continue to push the industry forward instead of fighting to kill it from within.

    • Cindy Helmericks

      January 17, 2016 at 11:14 am

      How is the fact that Exxon hiding scientific evidence about climate change showing government intervention? Also, by stating this fact in the article you make the reader wonder if the coal industry is willing to lie as well. Not a good move on the part of a pro-coal publication.
      “Coal production in Wyoming would be reduced between 34 and 50 percent depending on how many of their electricity customers will be able to make the difference by going to other states for the electricity.” this statement once again shows lack of research and understanding on your part.

      Finally when discussing what an authority states just directly quote them so that the information is given without anything being misconstrued. Also, give them credit where credit is due. It is Dr. Rob Godby who is a professor of economics and policy at the University of Wyoming. Be respectful and use the title that he earned and also gives the reader the idea that he is an expert in his field.

      If there is the possibility of editing this article and updating this post I would highly suggest using this function.

  4. Jena

    January 16, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    No, you compared the coal industry to the tobacco industry, because you wanted to draw a negative correlation between the two. Wendy, did not misunderstand your article. She saw it for what it was. A poorly veiled piece of propaganda.

  5. Tiffany Reed

    January 17, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I agree with Wendy Lowe that it is a poorly written article. Sometimes the author sounds like it is siding with the U.S. Government by saying, “the EPA hasn’t left those…”. The grammar is poor. “The state of Wyoming states to lose…”. That doesn’t even make sense. Is this article about coal emissions or Wyoming’s battle against the Clean Coal Plan or the history of global warming cover-ups or Wyoming job loss?

    • Wendy Lowe

      January 17, 2016 at 11:30 am

      The Clean Power Plan is a classic example of the federal administration end run around congress. The Plan is a mandate to states that will forever change how we generate and distribute electricity in the US. The Plan takes away the powers of our public service commissions and forcefully requires states to do as the EPA says or they will regulate for the states. The Plan vastly exceeds the legal parameters of the Clean Air Act, which had actually very successfully cleaned up America’s air. The blatant illegality of the Plan is why states and attorneys general from both parties are challenging it in court. The administration is not honoring ” rule of law “, so critical to a a free country.

  6. Jena

    January 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    This article also states that 11,000 coal jobs could be lost, but fails to mention that thousands more would be lost in businesses supported by coal. When coal goes so would all most every business in Gillette, and several surrounding towns. The impact on north east Wyoming would be catastrophic. The impact on the state would be devastating. The article is sophomoric, and the comments left by the author are very passive aggressive. If Wyoming magazine supports coal as the author stated in one of her comments, we don’t need or want allies like them.

  7. Laura

    January 18, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I couldn’t even finish this article. She lost me at “we know its warming, and evidence continues to point towards human activity” seriously?

    • Wendy Lowe

      January 18, 2016 at 6:44 am

      The EPA has implemented increasingly stringent emission regulations for power plants. Utilities have installed or retrofitted plants to successfully reduce emission rates by 98% in the past thirty years. Plants do generate electricity very cleanly, or they have not remained in operation. Ratepayers are paying for these improvements, it is irresponsible and dangerous to close these plants providing critical base load power to consumers all over the country. FYI coal reserves are within our “borders” not “boarders”.

    • Tyson Waggener

      January 18, 2016 at 6:45 am

      Here let me help you “Here in Wyoming we understand that the Coal and Oil industry is the backbone of our nation. We are proud to provide the nation with clean plentiful AMERICAN energy. Investing in Clean Coal technology is the answer Wyoming wants to hear. Killing an industry with overreaching governmental agendas is not something that should be happening in America. Last we checked this was a country that valued freedom and capitalism.” Do you disagree with that?

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